No buses are due on Nathan road - Mong Kok occupation 2.0 weekend sum-up

Nathan road opened for traffic round on Friday morning.

A few observations on the current development of the Mong Kok occupation in Hong Kong.

Submitted by Nao on October 21, 2014

The "first" Mong Kok occupation was cleared on Friday (17th) after 5:00. The cops first removed the Christian altar on one of the south barricades then the Guanyu shrine in the north. After that they let it rip, tore the road blocks all apart in half an hour. Then they asked everybody on the street to move to the sidewalk for their own safety. Sanitation workers cleared the streets of debris for another two hours while the cops were playing the cat and mouse game on the side-roads with those who didn't want to leave. After clearing the road they didn't really arrest people, they just chased them away. Round 7:00 there were more cops on the street then protesters anyway.

Sweeping the road on the location of the old Guanyu temple

The first buses came to the Nathan road and Mong Kok road intersection at about 8:00. The event had an air of a parade with police motorbikes in front and a small crowd of people standing on the sidewalk clapping and cheering at the sight. It looked like it was back to business as usual till another kind of a crowd started swelling up in the evening.

Round 19:00 there was already a sizable crowd gathering on the east side of Nathan road. By 21:00 Nathan was blocked again at Dundas street intersection. After some scuffles with the cops, there were barricades blocking the road all the way from Dundas to Argyle by 2:00. A bit shorter then the first occupation that stretched all the way to Mong Kok intersection.

One of the police lines in Nathan road on Friday night

The active crowd seemed very cohesive in the way they communicated and cleared the road of the cops and in the way the barricades appeared in no time. The way they build the blockades was very fast: people took the police fences that were set up along the road to prevent the crowd to reoccupy it and pushed them to the intersections and different locations on the road. Some of the new barricades built from police fences were constructed in a zigzag pattern between two parallel lines of fencing reinforced with bamboo. They were reenforced in the following days and new ones sprung up. 

It did not look like much was going to happen on Saturday (18th) evening. Albert Chan form the right wing People's power gave a speech on the north end of the occupation. A few open mikes/discussion corners were set up further south. On one of these corners a discussion about the acceptable use of occupied space (referring to the "hot pot incident" during the original occupation) took place.

Except for the crowd purging a few disgruntled individuals who did not agree with the occupation there were no major incidents happening. The relatively relaxed atmosphere was broken up when cops attacked round 24:00, supposedly as a preemptive countermeasure against the appeals to retake the Argyle intersection and expend the occupation north of Argyle road (光復十字路).  Round the the Argyle intersection the cops attacked indiscriminately both people determined to defend the barricades and others who were just standing around looking at the spectacle. It seems that the goal was not to clear the whole occupation and that they just wanted to take the intersection and push the barricades behind the pedestrian crossing in an attempt to cattle the protesters on Nathan road and stop the spillover to Argyle road intersection. They were only partially successful since, there is sill a barricade blocking west part of Argyle road.

Sunday (19th) evening was marked by an expectation of a night raid by the police. Lots of people expecting a police attack came waring helmets, goggles, face-masks and DIY protection for their arms. A lot of people brought sleeping mats to stay on the road for the night. Most of the protestors were concentrated round Argyle-Nathan road intersection expecting the police to attack from the north.

The atmosphere on Monday (20th) was more peaceful and resembled the old occupation in certain ways. There were very few cops on the Argyle intersection and not many people with helmets or protective gear around. A new Guanyu shrine was set up on one of the inner barricades. There were a few open mikes set up by left leaning groups like Mobile democracy classroom (流動民主室).  Right leaning groups like People's power were addressing a sizable crowd on the north end of the occupation, there was also a smaller discussion corner organized by the followers of Chin Wan (the ideological leader of city state localists or 本土派).

As far as relations with the immediate local community are concerned, they seem to be getting worse. There were cases of people dropping different kinds of stuff on to the occupied area. Round 20:00 someone dropped a bunch of leaflets form one of the residential buildings along east side of Nathan road. The leaflets were a final warning to the occupiers, that if they do not clear the area by 23:00 they would become targets of a shit-bomb attack.

Final warning leaflet issued by the "disgruntled neighbors"

Students and government are going to have negotiations on Tuesday (21st). The leaders of the  Federation of students seems to be very supportive of the Mong Kok occupation now since they will be able to use it as an bargaining chip in the negotiations. But if the student leadership decides to pawn Mong Kok at the bargaining table the occupiers may again turn out to have a will of their own, so there is no telling when the buses will be back on Nathan road.


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